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In March 2019, data by the US Department of Agriculture attache in Nairobi revealed that Kenyan coffee production in the 2019-2020 financial year dropped to 650,000 bags, the lowest production in over 50 years/COURTESY


Kenya wakes up to coffee

– Growing coffee, drinking coffee –

Moraa says Kenyans are becoming more discerning, sophisticated consumers.

“For the longest time we were a tea-drinking nation that grew coffee, now it’s becoming part of our culture to drink coffee as well as grow it,” she said.

Sitting on the shady veranda of the Tin Roof Café, co-owner Abbie MacAndrew, says coffee drinking has thrown off its reputation as something for the fusty and the foreign.

“Coffee isn’t an elitist pastime anymore,” she said.

Shabaya tried brewed coffee for the first time when he began training as a barista, “but I never liked it,” he said with a grimace and a sip of lemon and ginger tea to wash away the memory.

But Shabaya soon acquired a regular customer, a discerning Italian in his 40s who came in everyday, sat at the bar counter and ordered an espresso.

“He explained the techniques and I learned to master the perfect shot of espresso,” said Shabaya.

While his espressos and cappuccinos are popular with customers and judges, the drink that sets Shabaya apart at competition is an idiosyncratic concoction he calls ‘Goodnight Kenya’ blending espresso with Cabernet Sauvignon grapes, orange juice and cardamom.

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“Kenyan coffee is full of citrus and blackcurrant, so these flavours complement those,” he said.

Shabaya hopes his signature brew will propel him into the top three at the world barista championships in Ireland, and earn Kenya a name for consuming coffee that matches its reputation for growing it.

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